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Essential to covering wars, revolutions and coups in the Caribbean, Central and South America-- I decided as a foreign correspondent whose basic job was to report-- was to carry a camera at all times. In times of crisis I felt naked without a camera.

The advantages of a reporter's carrying a camera are multiple. With a camera you get closer to the action. A cameraman often sees detail a reporter may miss. Moreover a camera can invite opportunities. A reporter with just a pen and a notebook can look ridiculous standing amidst a riot or rebellion. "CIA" the rebels shouted at one unfortunate correspondent scribbling his notes. The same rebels later happily posed with their guns in the knowledge that a picture may be a record for posterity.

Another advantage is that while reporters may be excluded from a closed door meeting, photographers may be permitted a "photo-op" during which a reporter-photographer is able to catch a thread of conversation, on faces reflecting the mood and the scene as well. When Cuba's President Fidel Castro visited Nicaragua after revolution there against the Somoza regime, I was--with my camera-the only foreign newsman invited to meet Castro's plane.
Perhaps most important from a factual standpoint ,the camera doesn't lie. Nor does it edit reality. An editor can change a reporter's text but not his or her photographs.

One disadvantage of carrying a camera is that professional news photographers-photojournalists-- hate your guts. Such was the case when I covered the Dominican civil war in 1965. A freelance professional news photographer accused me of taking bread out of his mouth by shooting pictures, as Time Magazine hadn't assigned him. more

Una Camara, Testigo a la Historia
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© 2004 - 2008 Bernard Diederich